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Olivia and the Masked Duke: A Steamy Friends to Lovers Victorian Romance (Lady Charlotte's Society of Angels Book 1) Kindle Edition
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A new historical romance series from USA Today Bestseller Grace Callaway
"A very hot and perfectly paced page turner, all the way to happily ever after." -NPR
Winner of the Daphne du Maurier Award & the Passionate Plume
He saved her life when she was a girl. Now she is a woman determined to heal his heart…
Spirited debutante Lady Olivia McLeod, cherished daughter of the Duke and Duchess of Strathaven, has two interests: solving mysteries and winning the love of her rescuer and secret crush, the infamous Duke of Hadleigh. When Livy joins Lady Charlotte Fayne’s charity for young ladies and discovers that it is a front for a covert investigative agency, she is thrilled. Livy dedicates herself to solving a deadly case; little does she realize that the path to danger will also lead to her heart’s deepest desire.
Notorious widower Ben Wodehouse, the Duke of Hadleigh, has only one goal in mind: redemption. After his tortured past, he channels his demons toward helping others, and the last thing he wants or deserves is innocence. Yet temptation taunts him by transforming the little girl he once saved into an alluring young woman. A dozen years younger than him and the daughter of his friend, Livy is everything he cannot have…and everything he needs.
Will perilous secrets, past and present, tear Livy and Ben apart? Will succumbing to their forbidden desires lead to their happily ever after? Find out in this steamy, friends-to-lovers age gap romance filled with mystery and adventure!
Grace's books feature sizzling hot historical romance, fun and feel-good happily ever afters, and exciting mystery and adventure. Her books are standalones which can also be enjoyed as part of her interconnected series.
LADY CHARLOTTE’S SOCIETY OF ANGELS (hot Victorian romance series)
#1 Olivia and the Masked Duke (Olivia & Ben)
#2 Pippa and the Prince of Secrets (Pippa & Cullen)
#3 Fiona and the Enigmatic Earl (Fiona & Thomas)
#4 Glory and the Master of Shadows (Glory & Wei)
#5 Charlotte and the Seductive Spymaster (Preorder)
GAME OF DUKES (hot Victorian romance series)
#1 The Duke Identity (Tessa & Harry)
#2 Enter the Duke (Maggie & Ransom)
#3 Regarding the Duke (Gabby & Garrity)
#4 The Duke Redemption (Beatrice & Wick)
#5 The Return of the Duke (Fancy & Severin)
#6 Steamy Winter Wishes: A Hot Historical Romance Short Story (featuring characters from all of Grace's series)
HEART OF ENQUIRY (hot Regency romance series)
Prequel novella: The Widow Vanishes (Will & Annabel)
#1 The Duke Who Knew Too Much (Alaric & Emma)
#2 M is for Marquess (Gabriel & Thea)
#3 The Lady Who Came in from the Cold (Marcus & Penny)
#4 The Viscount Always Knocks Twice (Richard & Violet)
#5 Never Say Never to an Earl (Sinjin & Polly)
#6 The Gentleman Who Loved Me (Andrew & Rosie)
MAYHEM IN MAYFAIR (hot Regency romance series)
#1 Her Husband’s Harlot (Helena & Nicholas)
#2 Her Wanton Wager (Percy & Gavin)
#3 Her Protector’s Pleasure (Marianne & Ambrose)
#4 Her Prodigal Passion (Charity & Paul)
Praise for Grace’s Books:
"The chemistry between the characters is absolutely explosive…This was an incredibly steamy, emotional, and all-consuming read that I could read again and again." -Candace, Goodreads
“This writer to me is in the leagues of Johanna Lindsey, Lisa Kleypas, Julia Quinn and Amanda Quick.” -Kathie, Amazon
“Callaway is a talented writer and as skilled at creating a vivid sense of the Regency period as she is at writing some of the best, most sensual love scenes I’ve read in a long while.” -Night Owl Reviews
“Grace Callaway is becoming one of my all-time favorite authors. The Kent’s remind me so much of the Mallory-Anderson saga from Johanna Lindsay or the Spy series from Julie Garwood. I’ve read those books so many times and now I find myself rereading Grace’s books.” -Vivian, Amazon
"A very hot and perfectly paced page turner, all the way to happily ever after." -NPR
"An exciting rollercoaster of a love story! This book delivers on a variety of levels. A slow burn, friends to lovers story. The plot is intricate, intimate, and all consuming. The couple's passion burns through the pages." -Jenna's Historical Romance Reviews
"This book has pretty much reduced me to describing it in one-word sentences. RAWR. YUM. YES!! SWEET. MORE... Livy and Ben together were ***swoon***. I really couldn't get enough of them. The writing, as always with Grace Callaway, was beautiful, heartfelt, and full of emotion. Every time I read something she writes, I can feel it completely. The storyline was fantastic, and I was captivated from beginning to end." -Candace, BookBub
"Olivia and Ben are so wonderful together. It is rare to find a match where the H & h share such a deep bond.... This book has it all--lead characters you truly love, fabulous side characters, murder, mystery, action, and a generous helping of steam and romance!" -Nazmin, Goodreads
"Ben and Olivia's friendship is detailed through the years, and you can't help falling in love with them and rooting for a happy ending. There's a mystery that finally helps bring Ben and Olivia together (I don't want give out any spoilers). There are some hot scenes between the two and lots of ups and downs in their relationship. If you love great character development, mystery, and a hot love story then this book is for you."-Rhonda, Goodreads
"Despite the age gap, Ben and Livy's friendship is so natural. Their friendship never feels awkward and the transition from friends to lovers is done tastefully (and steamily). Grace Callaway is always reliable when it comes to writing romances that are both romantic and steamy." -Romance Library
"This book was sexy, heartfelt, and exciting. Ben, the Duke of Hadleigh, may be Callaway's darkest hero yet... Livy has loved him since he saved her life when she was twelve years old. She's the one person who sees him as completely good and lovable. Grace did a great job of redeeming Ben. This book has Grace's signature sexiness and suspense that she's so great at writing." -Nancy, Goodreads
"Get out the high velocity fan because you will need it while reading this story. It is hotter than hot, I am not kidding. I love a tortured hero and if you do also, then grab this story right away." -Angela, Goodreads
"This was another engaging and action-packed read that delivered likeable and interesting characters, mystery and intrigue, and steamy goodness galore!"-MG, Goodreads
"The platonic friendship between the two main characters was haunting and beautiful at the same time. The friendship defined both their lives. Watching the platonic love blossom into romantic love was breathtaking. Both characters had such an emotional journey." -Jenna, Goodreads
About the Author
- ASIN : B089LLVXH2
- Publisher : Grace Callaway Books (February 18, 2021)
- Publication date : February 18, 2021
- Language : English
- File size : 1824 KB
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- Screen Reader : Supported
- Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
- X-Ray : Enabled
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Sticky notes : On Kindle Scribe
- Print length : 368 pages
- Best Sellers Rank: #67,438 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- #981 in Victorian Historical Romance (Books)
- #1,082 in Victorian Historical Romance (Kindle Store)
- #1,678 in Regency Historical Romance
- Customer Reviews:
About the author
Top reviews from the United States
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An exciting rollercoaster of a love story!
This book delivers on a variety of levels. A slow burn, friends to lovers story. The plot is intricate, intimate, and all consuming. The couple’s passion burns through the pages.
Ben and Livy’s bond was forged when Ben saved Livy as a child. It was a powerful bond of the strongest of friendships. Then Livy grows up and finds herself in love with the man she has known as her best friend for most of her life.
Ben is a widower that is jaded and damaged from a past full of mistakes. He fought a plethora of demons including violence and substance abuse. He pulls himself out of this, yet still feels his soul is too tarnished for the likes of Livy. He has to have control over all aspects of his life including his romantic relationships. I enjoyed his journey where at first he lets his past define him to his epiphany that he can be a good man. A man that can love and is worthy of love.
Livy is strong willed and fierce. She will not allow societal restraints determine what she does. She is in a constant battle between love and independence. All the while she stays true to herself. I loved her total allegiance and all encompassing love for Ben.
All the secondary characters were strong and well written. Especially Charlie. Charlie knows who she is and what she wants. She is a mentor and confidante. I liked Charlie for her sense of justice and loyalty to her fellow women.
The platonic friendship between the two main characters was haunting and beautiful at the same time. The friendship defined both their lives. Watching the platonic love blossom into romantic love was breathtaking. Both characters had such an emotional journey. Ben’s hatred of himself was palpable. But coupled with that is Livy’s desire for his salvation.
The plot was stunning. It floated through a long period of time. There was backstory through flashbacks, it wasn’t redundant and filled in the gaps. It showcased the beauty of the love from the couple both platonic and romantic. A slow burn, it moved at a good pace with plenty of story to fill in when the two main characters were not together. The secondary characters were vivid and three dimensional.
I loved everything about this book! It was haunting, even tragic at times. At other times it was an extremely passionate love affair. It is a very strong start to a new series. If you enjoy slow burn, intricate, and passionate reads about redemption with a great happily ever after, this book is for you!
I absolutely had to set aside my logic cap for a good portion of this book, because, I'll be real with you, most of it was ridiculously over the top. I mean, a leader named Charlie, a group of female investigators, and literal mustache twirly villains serving up mysterious new drugs to unsuspecting members of society? It's like Austin Powers and Charlie's Angels had a baby and time traveled back to England. The girls, including our FMC, train to fight, dress in disguises that are insanely over the top (circus performers, anyone?), and manage to solve riddles that I would have been scratching my noggin for days over. In no way is that realistic. But it is freaking fun. I'm telling you I didn't honestly pay half way attention to the romance (which was okay and pretty run of the mill age-gap, friends to lovers). I was just supremely entertained by the girl gang, insane shenanigans that were going on all over London.
Also, can we talk about the fact that the villain of this book is thought to be Chinese, a la every old school action movie where the villain is vaguely not American. But ya know what. He's not chinese. He is a white man in a bad wig and assuming get-up. Like, a thousand points to Grace for flipping that trope around. It's just such a nice change from the villain being a minority. Loved that.
This book was fun and if it wasn't written well, I probably would have hated it. But it made me go rewatch the OG Charlie's Angela with loml Drew Barrymore, so it's a winner in my book.
An example of this is when the male MC asks the female MC for full honesty, and she still chooses to hide things thinking that she could solve them at later times, wanting basically everything. All the while knowing exactly why he had issues with trust from his previous marriage. I just felt that no matter how good the reasons were for her to hide those things, it was just so painful because he was 100% transparent with her. Her actions just rubbed me the wrong way, and it felt like she was selfish and immature to think she could lie to him when he told her not to so vehemently. But then again, we wouldn't have the drama and plot without her internal conflicts.
Another thing I had an issue with was how he gave in so quickly to her. It was such a big deal that she was a lot younger and the daughter of his friend, so when he gave in, it was a bit anticlimactic. She didn't show a very mature personality either, which is why I also had to forcibly distract myself from all the interactions they had when she was a child and their adult relationship. I get that they were friends, but it just felt weird at certain parts because she was a14 y/o talking to a 26 y/o and that's supposed to be romantic? Like, did he actually see her as a sister, or not? If not, then did he see her as a friend? Because I'm having trouble believing that a twenty-something year old man could be such close friends with a tween girl, and that would be normal. I wont spoil anything, but it did feel slightly uncomfortable to me since she was apparently like a sister to him for 7 years (since she was a child), and he suddenly becomes attracted to her as a woman. I get that it's possible, but it's just not my cup of tea.
Everything else is AMAZING if I ignore those things I mentioned.
Top reviews from other countries
When it came to the romance and the fact that there was an age gap introduced when the female heroine was younger, I was somewhat apprehensive. However, the way it was executed in this novel took away all of my original apprehension. There was a clear difference in the platonic relationship between the female heroine and male hero when they were both younger to when they discovered the romantic relationship as older characters.
I also loved the spin and twist with "Charlie's Angels" involved in this story. Surprisingly, it took me halfway through the story to discover that the coincidences were intentional.
This was my first Grace Callaway read but it certainly will not be my last! I can't wait to dive into more of her works!
Unfortunately, I didn't get along well with Livy. I don't like characters that are too perfect. An 18 year old with two months experience is the world's greatest investigator. Add to that Livy insisted first on lying to Ben about what she was doing, and then it was purely his responsibility to change his expectations. Livy didn't give up or compromise a single thing to make this romance work and I don't like the one sidedness of it. I mean the man told her upfront about all his clandestine activities and all his addictions, he deserves her to be honest with him too.
I did love that this was a genuinely interesting murder mystery alongside the romance. It was well structured with many twists and turns, it was perhaps a particularly deadly few months for the ton but you cant win them all. I like the inclusion of multiple riddles in their adventures, getting back to the infallibly spys I kind of wish I'd seen them mistep once and stumble backwards into a different clue. It was good overall.
This book was very steamy with multiple scenes sprinkled throughout, I thought it was very well balanced overall. These characters carry a very clear D/s relationship throughout their sexual exploits with Ben takingcharge, which is interplayed with their non-sexual life where Livy clearly rides rodshod over Ben. It does a very good job of ensuring the sexual activities always have enthusiastic consent even when their are other communication issues in the relationship.